Muslims in Kano, Katsina, Borno, Zamfara and Bauchi states on Sunday shunned a directive of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, which stated that there should be no large gatherings at Eid prayers.
Punch correspondents, who monitored prayer grounds in the states, observed that there were massive gatherings with the majority of the faithful not observing the PTF’s protocols such as social distancing and wearing of face masks.
Recall that states, including Kano, Katsina, Borno and Yobe, last week relaxed the Federal Government’s lockdown and allowed religious organisations to hold their congregational activities. They gave Muslims the go-ahead to hold prayers at Eid at grounds to mark the end of 30 days fasting.
But the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, led by the Sultan, on Wednesday contradicted the state governments.
In a statement by its Deputy Secretary General, Prof Salisu Shehu, the NSCIA said massive gatherings at one Eid ground in a big city should be avoided. “Rather the Eid could be performed in area mosques to avoid unmanageable crowds,” it stated.
On Thursday, Jama’atu Nasril Islam, also led by the Sultan, directed Muslims to observe Sallah prayers at home
In a statement by its Secretary General, Dr Khalid Abubakar, the JNI said, “Eid-el-Fitr congregation on the outskirts of towns and cities should be temporarily suspended.”
It also directed that “Eid-el-Fitr prayer be observed at home with family members or alone in case there isn’t anyone with him or her, at home.”
At the press briefing of the PTF on Thursday, its Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, advised against large gatherings of people during the Sallah celebration.